Witness Moment

Prepared for Service in East Africa

At Matongo Lutheran Theological College in Kenya, students study to become pastors, deaconesses and evangelists.

Students from a dozen East African countries come to rural western Kenya to study at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya’s Matongo Lutheran Theological College at Neema Lutheran College. I serve at the school alongside five other full-time faculty members, and we prepare the students to become pastors, deaconesses and evangelists. Here are the stories of two of our students.


Abraham was one of the “lost boys” of Sudan who fled during the civil war that ended in independence for South Sudan. At one time, he was forced to serve as a child soldier, but he managed to make his way to a refugee camp. It was there that he became a Christian. When he observed that the pastor there was not doing his job very well, he began to desire to be a pastor himself.

As God continued to watch over him, he came into contact with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and was sponsored as a pastoral student at Matongo. The Rev. Dr. Thomas Aadland, the Rev. Dr. Walter Steele and I — all LCMS missionaries — served as his teachers while there.

Abraham knew how to face challenges with determination and was a top student. But one day, he did not come to class. I found Abraham curled up on his bed in pain. I drove him an hour away to a doctor who quickly placed him in the hospital to have a ruptured appendix removed. Once again, Abraham had escaped death by God’s grace. He knew that this was because God had work for him to do.

At Matongo, Abraham had classes in English, worshiped in Swahili, and learned Greek and Hebrew. One project he undertook on his own was translating the Lutheran liturgy for Sunday worship, Baptism, burial and so on from English into his native tribal language, Dinka. Again, he faced challenges. Because of the specialized alphabet of his language, the old program on his computer was not able to create a document that could be exported. I let him use my computer to create a document that was able to be printed.

Abraham has now graduated with a Bachelor of Theology degree and returned home, where he is serving as a pastor.

Students work in the library at Matongo Lutheran Theological College at Neema Lutheran College in Nyamira County, Kenya.


Janes (pronounced “Janice”) is a recent graduate of Matongo, and she now serves as a deaconess in her hometown of Iterio, Kenya.

At Matongo, Janes was equipped to teach children, make home and hospital visits, work with youth and women’s groups, help with setup for Sunday worship, and much more. Most deaconesses in Kenya do not receive a salary for this work, so they do other work to provide for their families.

One part of Janes’ work is with various women’s groups, including widows. There are many widows in the church there since it is not common for women to remarry after their husband’s death. These widows are usually very poor. With Janes’ help, the widows in her congregation work together to raise crops and chickens on some small parcels of land. They also have purchased a set of plastic chairs, which they rent out for events. In these ways, the widows are able to provide for themselves and for others who are in need.

Learn More

Rev. Vance Becker 

LCMS missionary and theological educator in Kenya.

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